New York State Route 481

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New York State Route 481

Veterans Memorial Highway
Map of the Syracuse area with NY 481 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NYSDOT and the cities of Fulton and Oswego
Length31.79 mi[1] (51.16 km)
ExistedJanuary 1, 1970[2]–present
Major junctions
South end I-81 / I-481 in North Syracuse
Major intersections NY 31 in Clay
NY 3 in Fulton
North end NY 104 in Oswego
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
CountiesOnondaga, Oswego
Highway system
I-481 I-487

New York State Route 481 (NY 481) is a state highway in Central New York in the United States. The southern terminus of the route is at an interchange with Interstate 81 (I-81) in North Syracuse, where the highway continues southeastward as I-481. Its northern terminus is located at an intersection with NY 104 in Oswego about two blocks from Lake Ontario. In between, NY 481 serves the communities of Clay, Phoenix and Fulton along the Oswego River. NY 481 is one of two state routes in the Syracuse area that serves as an extension of an Interstate Highway; the other is NY 690.

From its southern terminus to the Fulton city line, NY 481 is a four-lane limited-access highway with a handful of interchanges. It enters Fulton as a four-lane undivided highway, but gradually narrows to two lanes as it heads through the northern portion of the city. North of Fulton, NY 481 becomes a four-lane divided highway and proceeds to the outskirts of Oswego, where it reverts into a two-lane roadway. NY 481 also serves as a faster alternate to NY 48 from the Syracuse area to downtown Oswego. Both travel along the Oswego River, with NY 481 on the eastern side and NY 48 on the western side.

NY 481 was commissioned in 1970 from North Syracuse to Fulton and extended northward to Oswego in 1982. The portion of the route north of Fulton was designated as NY 20 from 1924 to 1927 and NY 57 from 1927 to 1982. The segment of NY 481 south of Fulton follows a newer facility that was built in the 1970s. NY 481 and I-481 comprise the Veterans Memorial Highway.

Route description

All of NY 481 is officially designated as part of the Veterans Memorial Highway, a designation that also encompasses the entirety of I-481, NY 481's southeastward continuation around the eastern half of Syracuse.[3] The northernmost three blocks of NY 481 in the city of Oswego are locally maintained, as is the southernmost block in the city of Fulton. The remainder of the route is maintained by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).[4][5]

South of Fulton

NY 481 begins in North Syracuse at an interchange with I-481 and I-81, a north–south highway running north to Watertown and south to Syracuse. The junction is about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Syracuse Hancock International Airport, located on I-81. Like I-481, NY 481 is a four-lane limited-access highway with a handful of interchanges for the first 20 miles (32 km) of its run. Exit numbers along NY 481 pick up where those of I-481 leave off. Heading northwest from the I-81 interchange, the highway crosses U.S. Route 11 (US 11) almost immediately, passing just south of the former site of Penn-Can Mall. The road soon enters the town of Clay, where it initially runs along the northern edge of a marsh for 3 miles (4.8 km). Near the north edge of the swamp, the freeway passes over the St. Lawrence Subdivision, a CSX Transportation rail line linking Syracuse to the North Country.[6]

NY 481 approaching exit 12 (NY 31) in Clay

Past the swamp, NY 481 serves more developed areas of the town, running alongside a cluster of housing tracts on the outskirts of a large retail area centered around the highway's junction with NY 31. The commercial district comprises several strip malls and the Great Northern Mall, the latter situated northeast of the NY 31 interchange. From here, the freeway heads through markedly less developed areas, running across farmland to reach the Oneida River (Erie Canal) at the northern edge of Onondaga County. It continues across the waterway into the Oswego County town of Schroeppel, where it connects to County Route 57A (CR 57A) at a half-diamond interchange east of the village of Phoenix. NY 481 continues to run across undeveloped areas of fields and forests, even as it passes close to Phoenix.[6]

As the route heads away from the village, it connects to NY 264 at a full diamond interchange about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Phoenix. The route is the village's main north–south highway, and it connects NY 481 and Phoenix to SUNY Oswego's Phoenix campus, located just southwest of the freeway. The junction with NY 264 is the last interchange on the route; however, NY 481 remains limited-access up to the Fulton city line. As the route approaches the city limits, it takes on a more westerly track, passing over CSX's Fulton Subdivision and the Sunoco Ethanol plant located in the former Miller Brewing Company brewery[7] before intersecting CR 57 at an at-grade junction just inside the city limits. The route continues northwest from here, heading through significantly more developed areas as South 1st Street.[6]

Fulton to Oswego

In Fulton, NY 481 travels slowly through the center of town, serving as the main north–south route through the city. It changes names several times, becoming South 4th Street after South 1st Street where it passes the former Nestle chocolate plant which closed in 2003,[8] and eventually South 2nd Street when South 4th Street leaves to the north. The four-lane road serves a handful of homes; however, the majority of establishments along the street are commercial. In downtown Fulton, NY 481 intersects NY 3 at Broadway, one of two streets to cross the Oswego River and connect to NY 48, a parallel route to NY 481 on the western riverbank. Past Broadway, NY 481 changes names to North 2nd Street but otherwise remains unchanged until Oneida Street, located seven blocks north of NY 3. Here, the highway narrows to two lanes, a width it retains through the remainder of Fulton and into the town of Volney.[6]

NY 481 at the junction with CR 57 in Fulton

At the northern city line, NY 481 connects to the south end of CR 57's northern segment, which closely parallels NY 481 between Fulton and Oswego. Continuing into Volney, the highway briefly runs alongside the Oswego River prior to entering another lightly developed region of the county. About 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Fulton, NY 481 expands to a four-lane divided highway once more; however, it remains an at-grade roadway. The Fulton Subdivision also rejoins the road at this point, running alongside NY 481's northbound lanes to the Oswego city limits. Between Fulton and Oswego, the route serves mostly undeveloped areas but has several stretches of scenic beauty, mostly consisting of glimpses of locks, rapids and small waterfalls through trees separating NY 481 from the river.[6]

NY 481 narrows to two lanes near the southern edge of Oswego, where it separates from the Fulton Subdivision and curves northwestward as it crosses into the city limits. The road, now named East River Road, continues on this track to the banks of the Oswego River and a junction with CR 57. This is also where NY 481 passes by the Oswego County Public Safety Center, a complex comprising the county offices, courts, and a correctional facility. NY 481 continues along the east bank of the river into the main part of Oswego, initially serving a mostly residential area before entering downtown as East 1st Street.[6]

The homes continue to line NY 481 until a junction with Utica Street, one of two roads to cross the river within Oswego and thus provide access between NY 481 and NY 48. From here, NY 481 serves several businesses and the central offices of the Oswego City School District before ending three blocks north of Utica Street at a junction with NY 104 (Bridge Street), Oswego's other highway with a river crossing. Both directions of NY 104 provide access to the remainder of the city's central business district while East 1st Street continues north past NY 104 to Oswego Harbor, where Oswego River empties into Lake Ontario.[6]


The primary north–south roadway connecting Syracuse to Oswego via Fulton on the eastern bank of the Oswego River was originally designated as Route 34, an unsigned legislative route, by the New York State Legislature in 1908.[9][10] When the first set of posted routes in New York were assigned in 1924, legislative Route 34 was designated as NY 20.[11][12] NY 20 was redesignated as NY 57 in 1927 to avoid numerical duplication with the newly designated U.S. Route 20.[13] The NY 57 corridor remained unchanged until the late 1950s when construction began on a new roadway to replace the existing two-lane, curvy routing of NY 57 between Fulton and Oswego. The first section opened through Fulton, along with the new NY 3, on August 8, 1958.[14] It was completed on September 30, 1959, with the opening of the section north of Bundy Crossing.[15]

In the mid-1960s, construction began on a limited-access highway linking Fulton to I-81 in North Syracuse.[16][17] The under-construction highway, initially known as "Relocated Route 57", was designated as NY 481 on January 1, 1970. The NY 481 designation also extended north to NY 3 in Fulton by way of a short overlap with NY 57.[2] The portion of the expressway between Fulton and NY 31 in Clay was opened to traffic on December 15, 1970[18] while the rest was completed on August 16, 1972.[19] NY 481 was extended northward to its present terminus in downtown Oswego when the NY 57 designation was eliminated in May 1982.[3]

Major intersections

CountyLocationmi[1]kmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
OnondagaNorth Syracuse0.000.00
I-481 south – DeWitt
Continuation south
91A-B I-81 – Syracuse, WatertownSigned as 9N (1A) (north) and 9S (1B) (south)
0.500.80101C US 11 – North SyracuseAccess to US 11 via Bear Road and Circle Drive
Clay2.43.9113Caughdenoy Road / Maple RoadNorthbound exit only
6.9711.22127 NY 31 – Baldwinsville, Cicero
OswegoSchroeppel10.5416.961311 CR 57A – PhoenixNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
13.0420.991413 NY 264 – Phoenix, Mexico
FultonNorthern end of freeway section
19.4931.37 CR 57Former routing of NY 57
NY 3 to NY 48
Volney27.143.6 CR 45 – Minetto, Mt Pleasant, Palermo
Oswego31.7951.16 NY 104Northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

==See also==*Interstate 481 for exits 1 through 8


  1. ^ a b "2010 Traffic Volume Report for New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. July 25, 2011. pp. 238–239. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  2. ^ a b State of New York Department of Transportation (January 1, 1970). Official Description of Touring Routes in New York State (PDF). Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  3. ^ a b New York State Department of Transportation (January 2017). Official Description of Highway Touring Routes, Bicycling Touring Routes, Scenic Byways, & Commemorative/Memorial Designations in New York State (PDF). Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  4. ^ Fulton Digital Raster Quadrangle (Map). 1:24,000. New York State Department of Transportation. 1993. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  5. ^ Oswego West Digital Raster Quadrangle (Map). 1:24,000. New York State Department of Transportation. 1993. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Google (February 24, 2008). "overview map of NY 481" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  7. ^ "Home".
  8. ^ Eaton, Leslie (2 May 2003). "When the Chocolate Melted; Nestlé Factory Closing Leaves Town Reeling". The New York Times.
  9. ^ State of New York Department of Highways (1909). The Highway Law. Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Company. p. 64. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  10. ^ New York State Department of Highways (1920). Report of the State Commissioner of Highways. Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Company. p. 548. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  11. ^ "New York's Main Highways Designated by Numbers". The New York Times. December 21, 1924. p. XX9.
  12. ^ Rand McNally Auto Road Atlas (western New York) (Map). Rand McNally and Company. 1926. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  13. ^ Automobile Blue Book. Vol. 1 (1927 ed.). Chicago: Automobile Blue Book, Inc. 1927. This edition shows U.S. Routes as they were first officially signed in 1927.
  14. ^ "Ave Promises Repairs After Bumpy Trip". Syracuse Post Standard. August 9, 1958. Retrieved December 23, 2023.
  15. ^ "Last Section of New Highway Linking Oswego-Fulton Open". Oswego Palladium-Times. 1959-09-30. p. 3. Retrieved 2023-12-23.
  16. ^ New York (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally and Company. Mobil. 1965.
  17. ^ New York (Map) (1969–70 ed.). Cartography by General Drafting. Esso. 1968.
  18. ^ "New Section Of Highway South Of Fulton Open". Palladium Times. December 15, 1970. Retrieved December 23, 2023.
  19. ^ "Crawford Hails Rt. 481 Opening". Oswego Palladium Times. July 27, 1972. Retrieved December 23, 2023.

External links